A Higher Power of my own understanding – the beginning of empowerment

“This revolutionary idea was that an unconditionally Loving Higher Power exists with whom the individual being can personally communicate.  A Higher Power that is so powerful that it has no need to judge the humans it created because this Universal Force is powerful enough to ensure that everything unfolds perfectly from a Cosmic Perspective.

This reintroduction of the revolutionary concept of an accessible Loving God has been clarified to specifically include the concept that the individual being can define this Universal Force according to his/her own understanding, and can develop a personal, intimate relationship with this Higher Power.

In other words, no one is needed as an intermediary between you and your creator.  No outside agency has the right to impose upon you its definition of God.”

“Enlarging my perspective means changing my definitions, the definitions that were imposed on me as a child about who I am and how to do this life business.  In Recovery it has been necessary to change my definitions of, and my perspective of, almost everything.  That was the only way that it was possible to start learning how to Love myself.

I spent most of my life feeling like I was being punished because I was taught that God was punishing and that I was unworthy and deserved to be punished.  I had thrown out those beliefs about God and life on a conscious, intellectual level in my late teens – but in Recovery I was horrified to discover that I was still reacting to life emotionally based on those beliefs.

I realized that my perspective of life was being determined by beliefs that I had been taught as a child even though they were not what I believed as an adult.  That perspective caused my emotional truth to be that I felt like life was punishing me, and that I was not good enough – that something was wrong with me.  I felt like a victim of life, like a victim of myself, at the same time that I was blaming others for not making me happy.

I had to start trying to find a concept of a Higher Power who could Love me even though I was an imperfect human.  If my Creator is judging me then who am I not to judge myself?  On the other hand if the Goddess Loves me unconditionally then who am I not to Love myself?  And if the God/Goddess/Great Spirit/Universal Force Truly Loves me then everything has to be happening for reasons that are ultimately Loving. . . . . The only way that I was able to make significant progress in the process of stopping self-judgment and getting rid of the toxic shame was to become conscious of the larger perspective.  When I started to believe that maybe a Higher Power, a Universal Force, existed which was Truly All-Powerful and Unconditionally Loving then life started to become a lot easier and more enjoyable.” – All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Twelve step recovery is a program of empowerment.  Many people erroneously assume that the fact that first step involves admitting powerlessness means that 12 step recovery disempowers people. The Truth is exactly the opposite.

It was only when I admitted that I was powerless to control my drinking that I gained the power to stop drinking.  As long as I was trying to control my drinking out of ego and will power, I was powerless to stop drinking alcoholically.  It was when I opened up to getting help from a power greater than myself that I gained the power to transform my life.  (There are some people – alcoholics – who can stop drinking using will power.  They are what is referred to in the program as dry drunks.  They are some of the most miserable, resentful, angry people on the face of the planet – because they have no spiritual belief system that is Loving.)

In the beginning for me, that power greater than myself was just the group – the people I met at AA meetings.  Those people shared their stories, their thoughts and feelings, in a way that I identified with.  Previously I had thought I was the only one who thought those kind of insane thoughts and had those kind of feelings of utter despair and hopelessness.  When I first got to AA, I realized that I was not alone – I felt a connection to these people, felt a part of something larger than myself.

I however, had a real problem with the talk of God that I heard at meetings.  I was raised in a shaming religion that taught me I was born sinful and shameful.  I was emotionally and spiritually abused as a young child by being taught that God loved me but might send me to burn in eternal damnation in hell.  I was taught that being human was shameful and sinful. (In one of my articles in my series on sexuality, gender, and relationships, I explained that it is not necessary for a person to be raised in a shaming religion to get the message that it is shameful to be human: Sexuality Abuse – the legacy of shame based culture.)

So, I had a real problem with even using the word God.  And this was not just because of my personal experience, but also because of what I had learned about the history of the planet.  I saw that throughout history “God” had been used as an justification for genocide, torture, plunder, and rape.  I saw that a civilization based upon the “command” to go forth to subdue and conquer, not only destroyed peoples and cultures that were much kinder and more Loving than the conquerors – but was an integral part of going a long way towards destroying the planet we live on.

In my younger days I had been involved in activism with Native Americans – whom I could clearly see had been victimized by subdue, conquer, and slaughter mentality of the dominant culture.  I found much beauty and harmony in the respect for nature and natural laws that was involved in the Native American concept a Higher Power – The Great Spirit.  In the beginning of my book, I state some reasons that I wrote it – which included the following sentence.

“This is my way of standing up for my Truth, and of honoring “All My Relations,” which is a Native American term that refers to the Great Spirit whose essence is present in everyone and everything.  We are all related to everyone and everything.”

If I had been told in January 1984, at the beginning of my recovery from alcoholism, that the only way I could quit killing myself with alcohol was to accept the standard version of “God” – I would never have gotten sober.  I would have been dead long ago.  But what I was told, was that I needed to find a concept of a Higher Power that worked for me – a Higher Power of my own understanding.   That was what saved my life – the revolutionary concept that I could develop my own idea of a Higher Power, and develop a personal relationship with that Higher Power that did not have to conform to what anyone else believed.

So, in the beginning of my recovery, I allowed the fact that people in meetings – whom I identified with – seemed to have found a way to live life that worked for them, to help me stay sober one day at a time.  I used the group as a power greater than myself, while I worked on trying to find a concept of a Higher Power that would work for me.

In those early days, I would call that Higher Power The Great Spirit – or The Force.  I remembered clearly that when the Star Wars movies first came out, I strongly resonated with the idea that “The Force is with you.”

It was when I was about 3 months sober that a book came into my life that altered my life, and my perspective of a Higher Power, immeasurably.  The miracle of the “coincidence” of discovering that book – a book that reached out and grabbed my attention from the paperback rack in a grocery store – is something that still reduces me to tears of Joy and Gratitude 20 years later.  I quoted that book several times in my book – and in this article I am going to use a quote from an online book I wrote that includes a quote from my book within it.  That online book is the one that I wrote about the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.  I wrote that online book because I saw the terrorist attack of 9/11 as a blatant manifestation of the human condition of codependency – and I will in this series of article be touching on some of the cultural and international manifestations of codependency that are causing the world conditions we are facing today.

“One of the first things I was guided to, when I was only about 3 months sober, was a mind boggling, paradigm smashing book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  It presented me with concepts that it took me years to understand intellectually.  But I knew instantly that the book was full of Truth.

“In order to become aligned with Truth so that we can stop the war within and change life into an easier, more enjoyable experience, it is vitally important to become clear in our emotional process and to change the reversed attitudes that we had to adopt to survive.  Those reversed attitudes are what cause our dysfunctional perspectives – which in turn, have caused us to have a lousy relationship with life. 

I am going to quote from a book now, and again a little later, that is my own personal favorite book of Truth.  I feel a great deal of Truth in this book.  It has guided me and helped me to remember my Truth and to become conscious of my path.  It was a very important part of my personal process of enlarging my perspective – of being able to see this life business in a larger context. 

It is a book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  This is one of my favorite quotations from that book. 

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. 

What a caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

The “depth of your belief” is about perspective.  If we are reacting to life emotionally out of the belief systems we had imposed on us as children we will then see change as tragedy and feel that being forced to grow is shameful.  As we change our attitudes toward this life experience, when we can start viewing it as a process, a journey, then we can begin to see that what we used to perceive as problems are really opportunities for growth.  Then we can begin to realize that even though our experiences in childhood have caused to think of ourselves as, and feel like, lowly caterpillars – we are in Truth butterflies who are meant to fly. 

We are all butterflies.  We are all Spiritual Beings.

I used to use the caterpillar – butterfly quote a lot when I spoke.  I would usually say something like “a measure of your Spiritual Awakening” instead of “mark of your ignorance” in order to soften it a bit.  We codependents are such experts in beating ourselves up and shaming ourselves, that we tend to see the word ignorance as being something that is our fault.  In fact, the word ignorance refers to a lack of knowledge, of not being informed.  The reason we didn’t know how to set boundaries, or have healthy relationships, was because of ignorance caused by not having anyone to teach us – no healthy role models, no resources for learning how to be healthy.  We not only did not have resources to teach us how to relate to life and other people in a healthy way – we were taught the very opposite of healthy behavior in most cases.” – Attack on America – A Spiritual Healing Perspective

The caterpillar and butterfly quote was incredibly powerful to me.  I saw quitting drinking as a great tragedy – as the end of life as I knew it.  And gratefully it was the end of life as I knew it, and the beginning of life as an adventure in learning to Love.

It was the concept that I could develop a belief in a Higher Power of my own understanding that helped to empower me to realize that I had a choice in the beliefs and definitions about “God” that I was allowing to dictate my relationship with life.  It was this revolutionary concept that started me on the path to realizing that I was Lovable – that I could reconnect with, and access, an Unconditionally Loving Universal Force in a way that would help me remember that I am a beautiful butterfly that can Fly.

So are you.  At least, that is my Spiritual Belief.

Sacred Spiral

The Dance

It is possible to get personally autographed copies of my books from my website Joy2MeU  or You can get my Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon,  Books or eBooks through Barnes & Noble, or eBooks through Kobo.

x-ill

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote from: Illusions  “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.  Copyright 1977 by Creature Enterprises, Inc.   Reprinted in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney by permission of Bantam Doubleday Dell, New York, NY.

 

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Obsession and Obsessive Thinking Part 1 – Robert Burney

The Dance“We were taught to approach life from a perspective of fear, survival, lack and scarcity. . . . . . We were taught that life is about destinations, and that when we get to point x – be it marriage or college degree or fame and fortune or whatever – we will live happily ever after.
That is not the way life works.  You know that now, and probably threw out that fairy tale ending stuff intellectually a long time ago.  But on some emotional level we keep looking for it because that is what the children in us were taught.  We keep living life as if it is a dress rehearsal for “when our ship comes in.”  For when we really start to live.  For when we get that relationship, or accomplishment, or money that will make us okay, that will fix us.

We do not need fixing.  We are not broken.  Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self.” 

“Life is not some kind of test, that if we fail, we will be punished.  We are not human creatures who are being punished by an avenging god.  We are not trapped in some kind of tragic place out of which we have to earn our way by doing the “right” things.

We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience.  We are here to learn.  We are here to go through this process that is life.  We are here to feel these feelings.

Doing our emotional healing allows us to feel clear about what is in front of us instead of torturing ourselves by obsessively thinking, trying to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong.” – All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Obsessive thinking is an emotional defense that, like all of the various manifestations of codependency, is dysfunctional.  Being in our heads – thinking, fantasizing, ruminating – is a defense we adapted in childhood to help us disassociate from the emotional pain we were experiencing.  It is dysfunctional because it keeps us focused on the future or the past – we miss out on being alive today.  It is dysfunctional because our attempts to escape unpleasant feelings causes us to generate more unpleasant feelings.

Worry – which is negative fantasizing – is a reaction to fear of the unknown which creates more fear, which creates more worry, which creates more fear, etc.  This fear is not a normal human fear of the unknown.  It is codependent fear:  a distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated species of fear caused by the poisonous combination of a false belief that being human is shameful with a polarized (black and white, right and wrong) perspective of life.  This self perpetuating, self destructive type of obsessive thinking feeds not only on fear, but on shaming ourselves for feeling the fear.

The disease of codependency is a dysfunctional emotional defense system adapted by our egos to help us survive. The polarized perspective of life we were programmed with in early childhood, causes us to be afraid of making a mistake, of doing life “wrong.”  At the core of our being,we feel unlovable and unworthy – because our parents felt unlovable and unworthy – and we spend great amounts of energy trying to keep our shameful defectiveness a secret.  We feel that, if we were perfect like we “should” be, we would not feel fear and confusion, and would have reached “happily ever after” by now.  So, we shame ourselves for feeling fear, which adds gasoline to the inferno of fear that is driving us.  The shame and fear that drive obsession becomes so painful and ‘crazy making’ that at some point we have to find some way to shut down our minds for a little while – drugs or alcohol or food or sleep or television, etc.

It is a very dysfunctional, and sad, way to relate to life.  The fear we are empowering is about the future – the shame is about the past.  We are not capable of being in the now and enjoying life because we are caught up in trauma melodramas about things which have not yet happened – or wallowing in orgies of self recrimination about the past, which can not be changed.  Codependents do not really live life – we endure, we survive, we persevere.

Obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior is caused by, and fed by, fear and shame.  The feeling that the world will come to an end if ____ doesn’t happen, or that it has come to an end because ____ happened, is a feeling coming from the wounded inner child.  It is the result of early childhood emotional trauma – and the subconscious programming adapted by our egos to help us survive at a time when we were helpless and powerless.

An adult is not helpless and powerless.  We are, however, powerless to know that, as long as we are unconsciously reacting to repressed emotional energy and subconscious programming.  It is impossible to see our self or life clearly when we are caught up in trauma dramas (internally and externally) that feel life threatening.  In our codependency, we are in denial of our emotions at the same time we are allowing the feelings of the wounded child within to define and dictate our lives.

Getting into recovery from codependency, starting to learn how to do the inner child work, will help a person take power away from the fear and shame that drives the disease – that causes the obsessive thinking.  Learning to be compassionate in our relationship with our self – by not shaming ourselves for being wounded human beings – will help us to take power away from the obsessive thinking.  Starting to choose to believe that there is a benevolent Force in the Universe, a Loving Higher Power, will facilitate taking power away from the fear of the unknown.

Love is the answer to obsession – but not the love of another person.  Learning to be Loving to our self – and remembering that there is a Loving Higher Power, is the best way I have ever found to stop obsessive thinking.

Sacred SpiralSome notes of clarification from Robert Burney: (These notes were part of the article when it was originally published.)

I learned a lot about the wounding process of codependency by studying cases of people with multiple personality disorder.  Anyone raised in an emotionally dishonest, dysfunctional culture had their relationship with themselves – their psyche – shattered and fractured into multiple disjointed segments in childhood.  People with multiple personality / Dissociative Identity Disorder were pushed farther than the rest of us.  The recovery process for the normal form of codependency and the more extreme multiple personality variety both require reclaiming and integrating these different parts of self into a functional internal structure that allows us to put a mature adult in charge of our internal dynamics instead of the wounded inner children or the critical parent / disease programming.

In relationship to obsessive thinking, the manifestation of codependency that is the extreme, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD, which involves such things as: washing hands repeatedly;  or returning to the apartment multiple times to make sure the stove is turned off;  etc.) will probably require medication to bring the disorder under control enough to be able to focus on recovery.  Like other conditions/diseases that are fueled by the reactive condition of codependency, and that involve a genetic predisposition and/or compulsively self destructive behavior (alcoholism, some eating disorders, extreme forms of relationship or sexual addiction, etc.), it is sometimes necessary to bring the symptoms under control before the cause can be addressed – but addressing the cause is vital in making possible significant, long term changes in the symptomatic behavioral disorders.

Traditional Western medical science has ignored and discounted the spiritual and emotional components of being.  The traditional medical perspective in relationship to any physically or psychologically manifested dis-ease is limited by a left brain (concrete, rational) intellectual paradigm which is entirely focused on that which can be seen, measured, quantified.  Therefore, any spiritual, emotional, and mental dis-ease is seen as resulting from biochemical, physiological, physical conditions.  Doctors (which includes psychiatrists of course) – and other traditional medical and mental health professionals – were trained to identify mental and emotional problems as biological and to see the solution as chemical.

There are certainly neurobiological aspects to any behavioral manifestation, but it is not possible for a scientific perspective which requires empirical proof to truly ascertain the cause of any condition – because emotional and spiritual components of a human’s being can not be quantified.  In other words, brain chemistry is definitely out of balance in relationship to any physical disorder or mental condition – including OCD, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, etc.  That imbalance in brain chemistry definitely has an impact on emotions – but it is not possible to say absolutely which is the cause and which is the effect.  The chicken and egg conundrum.  In other words, did the emotional trauma and the fear and shame based relationship to life cause the chemical imbalance in the brain – or did the chemical imbalance come first.  Traditional Western medicine is not holistic – it does not treat the whole being, it treats symptoms.  Medication is necessary for some people.  It is an invaluable temporary help for others.  It is not the whole answer.  The great majority of doctors are limited by their training, the intellectual paradigm which determines their perspective, to believing that they do know the answers.

In my belief and experience, a person’s relationship to any dis-ease can be improved by the adaptation and integration of a Loving Spiritual belief system.

It is vital to change our relationship with our own emotions in order to take power away from the distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated variety of fear that drives obsession so that we can stop the compulsive behavior that is driven by repressed emotional energy.  And the underlying reason that fear is given so much power is the shame about being human that is at the foundation of our relationship with self.

Taking power away from the shame so that we can take power away from the fear is greatly facilitated by becoming involved in a twelve step Spiritual recovery program in order to develop some kind of benevolent spiritual relationship with life.

Here is a quote from an article on my web site about spirituality.

“My own personal Spiritual belief system is one form of spirituality.  It is certainly not the only one.  Mine works for me very well in helping me to have a relationship with life that allows me to be happier today.  It is not necessary for you to accept my belief system in order for you to use the tools, techniques, and perspectives that I have developed for emotional healing / codependence recovery / inner child integration.

For the purposes of this discussion of spiritual integration, I would now define what I refer to as a Spiritual Awakening in the quote above, as:  being open to a larger perspective – awakening from being trapped in a limiting perspective.  In this regard, spiritual would be a qualifier, an adjective, that describes the quality of one’s relationship with life.

This adjective, spiritual, would be (in my definition) a word describing an expanded level of consciousness.  A level of consciousness, of awareness, that is expansive and inclusive and facilitates personal growth – as opposed to limited, exclusive, rigid, and inhibiting growth,  development, and alternative view points.

By this definition, any religion that claims to be the chosen one, that excludes alternative perspectives or certain people, is not spiritual.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing – spiritual integration

So, basically what I am saying, is that codependency (which includes an addictive, toxic, abusive concept of love) is the problem and Love is the solution.  Any belief system that empowers separation, fear and shame is codependent in my definition – not spiritual.  There is a saying I like: “Religion is for people who are scared of hell, Spirituality is for people who have been there.”  It is possible to be spiritual without being religious, and possible to connect spiritually within a religion – but some religion as it is practiced is not at all spiritual.

Recovery is a process of learning to stop living in the hell that the illusion of separation – which empowers fear and shame – created, and start living life based upon remembering that we are connected to everyone and everything in Love.

Obsession / Obsessive Thinking Part 2

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The Dance

Robert Burney is a pioneer in codependency recovery / inner child healing movement whose first book Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time.”  His website joy2meu.com offers over 200 pages of free original content and he shares the transformational formula he discovered for inner healing through telephone / Skype counseling with people around the world

It is possible to get personally autographed copies of his books from his website Joy2MeU   or You can get Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon;  Books or eBooks from Barnes & Noble;  or eBooks thru Kobo.  Here is a page with special offers for his books.